Swimming Community Raises Money for Virginia Teen Fighting Cancer

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Photo Courtesy: Kim Richardson

Cassidy Richardson was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2013 when she was nine years old. Six years later, through ups and downs in her treatment, swimming has remained a constant for the 15-year-old.

The latest installment was a fundraising swim meet for the Jefferson Forest High School (Va.) student held Friday. The Hill City Sprint & Relay Invitational attracted more than 250 swimmers from near Richardson’s hometown of Forest, outside of Lynchburg, representing nearly a dozen high schools and clubs. Swimmers paid $5 each to compete at the Jamerson Family YMCA, and proceeds from the sale of baked goods, t-shirts and a raffle will benefit the Richardson family as they tackle the medical bills associated with Cassidy’s treatment.

“It’s so special to me that everybody cares so much and that so many people are here to support me,” Cassidy told WSET, the local ABC television affiliate. “It means a lot to me.”

Richardson was diagnosed with the rare form of bone cancer that often presents in children in 2013. She’s had to travel to John Hopkins’ pediatric oncology unit in Baltimore for treatment, a trip that takes four hours each way. In addition to chemotherapy, she’s undergone knee replacement and femur replacement surgeries.

She was cancer-free for more than a year, allowing her to swim for the Jefferson Forest varsity team as a freshman, before tumors returned. Her latest battle included the discovery of two tumors in October, which led to 17 days at Hopkins’ Pediatric ICU, spending the Thanksgiving holiday there and returning in early December.

Friday’s meet was the latest fundraiser for the family, which includes “Pink Outs” in her honor and a “Pancakes with the Grinch” event just before Christmas. It underscored how vital the swimming community has been to her fight.

“Our community and swim community have been so wonderful in supporting Cassidy and her battle with osteosarcoma,” Cassidy’s mother, Kim Richardson, said in an email to Swimming World. “The only sport Cassidy has ever done is swimming.  She’s been swimming since she was five. It was very hard for her not to swim this year.”

“I try to mostly focus on the positive things,” Richardson told The News & Advance, “because I feel like if I were to focus on the negative that it would make me sad, and then I’d just not want to do anything.”

This isn’t the first swim fundraiser for Cassidy. The Hill City Swim & Tennis Club, where she swims in the summer, did a swim-a-thon to raise money for her in 2016. Friday’s event was organized by Jefferson Forest High coach Marty Ponder, Hill City coach Hank Reed and Greg Hoffman, the head coach at Heritage High.

“We felt like, lets just bring the swimming community together again and show her that, we were on your team earlier but we still have your back and we’re going to be on your team now and support you no matter what,” said Hofmann, who presented the family with a check at the meet.

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